Oh, the Shame

by admin on October 9, 2014

I just discovered that Shredder lets you see your “rating progress,” just as the USCF does.

Screen shot 2014-10-09 at 2.57.05 PM

I don’t know which to be more ashamed of… the fact that I have played more than 200 games against Shredder (that’s a lot of time-wasting, and it’s just in the last three months!) or the fact that my rating against it is only 2021.

Some comments: In my first game I lost to Shredder set at 2350 (I believe). In my second game I beat it at a rating of 2180. That explains the huge rating spike after two games, when my rating went over 2250. I should have stopped then!

There was then a prolonged trough as Shredder took advantage of my tactical inaccuracies and pounded me again and again.

My gradual rating improvement is probably not due to any actual improvement in my play. Even though Shredder varies its openings a LOT, there are still a few that I have learned to take advantage of. For example, after 1. b4 I get a pretty good game every time with 1. … a5 2. b5 c5. In general, when Shredder’s rating is set below 2200 it tends to play goofball openings like 1. b4 and 1. … g5 more often than is healthy.

Another reason for the rating improvement is that more and more I have begun to ignore it when my flag falls. Shredder does not rate the game unless and until somebody resigns or is checkmated or a draw happens. So if my flag falls, I keep on playing. I’ve gotten many, many wins and draws that way. In one sense this is useful for training; one reason I started playing Shredder at “weakened” settings is that I wanted to practice winning superior positions. So instead of game in 10 minutes, the ground rules have been more like this. After 10 minutes I get either a won, lost, or drawn position. After that, I take my time and try to bring home the 1 point or ½ point. If I’m lost and my flag is down, I just resign.

By the way, Shredder also plays on after its flag falls. So it’s not as if I’m the only one.

There is one obvious disadvantage to this “training technique” — when I play in a tournament I won’t have the same luxury of ignoring the flag. But hopefully I will be able to adjust my thinking accordingly. We’ll see!

P.S. My wife saw the title and wondered, of course, what the shame was. When I told her it was that I had played 200 games against the computer, she understood perfectly. In fact, she added her own embellishment: “… When you should have been keeping up with cr** around the house!”

(Two hundred chess games is a lot of dishes not washed…)

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